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    Posted July 30, 2014 by
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    Locklear Briefs on Asia-Pacific, Partners, Security

     

    Locklear Briefs on Asia-Pacific, Partners, Security By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 - The commander of U.S. Pacific Command briefed Pentagon reporters yesterday, discussing the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, successful engagement with partners there and conditions for continued stability and security. Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III described some of Pacom's most important activities so far this year, including a visit to Hawaii by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who in April hosted the first informal meeting on U.S. soil of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. The meeting, Locklear said, "was an excellent opportunity to build upon the friendships and strengthen our bilateral relationship with ASEAN member nations." Next, the admiral said, Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, the world's largest maritime exercise, began June 26 and will end Aug. 1. More than 25,000 military personnel from 22 countries are participating, including troops from China, who are participation for the first time. Locklear said the exercise has been "an excellent training opportunity for all nations involved," and added that Pacom continues to "work hand in hand with our allies and partners to help ensure stability and security across the Indo-Asia-Pacific." The admiral also took questions from reporters, including one about whether unrest in Russia and Ukraine would require a reconsideration of U.S. and NATO posture in Europe, and whether that would affect the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. Locklear agreed that given the ongoing environment in Europe, a relook at U.S. force posture there and NATO posture in general is important, but he said he didn't think in such terms about the Asia-Pacific region. "Our forces are globally deployable no matter where they're stationed, and the United States military has put a lot of time and effort into being able to get forces where we need them, when we need them, on a timeline that makes sense for us," he explained. The severe budget cuts of sequestration, scheduled to resume in fiscal year 2016, may force decreases in force structure and put greater stress on the force to be able to stay forward in numbers that most combatant commanders would like, the admiral said. "But the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is a lot more than just about military, but the military piece of it is moving forward," Locklear added. "We're seeing tangible evidence across all elements of the rebalance, not only in force structure, ... so I think we remain on course. I don't get the sense that we're backing away from the Asia-Pacific rebalance because of other events occurring in the rest of the world." A military part of the rebalance involves the Army, the admiral added. A plan called Pacific Pathways allows the Army to develop small units that will be forward-deployed for quick response to humanitarian emergencies or regional threats. It also lets the Army create a semi-permanent presence in parts of the Pacific where it isn't feasible to establish bases. "As we started to draw down out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and we found that the Army was able to return to some of its historic roots in the Asia-Pacific, we started looking for opportunities to get the Army more involved in what we do day-to-day in the Pacific," Locklear said. Seven of the 10 largest armies in the world are in Pacom's area of responsibility, he added, "so it makes good sense for us to have good cooperation, good interaction between our armies." The idea, Locklear added, is to take Army units under Pacom command -- some of those that might be stationed on the U.S. West Coast -- and put them into exercise cycles that allow them to be more present in the region with key partners and allies and to work on skills that are unique to army-to-army interactions. On specific countries in his area of responsibility, Locklear took questions on India, political tensions

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